Zhang Jin-so is the owner of a small bean curd soup restaurant in China. Each day, he gets up before sunrise to prepare bean curd soup and other foods.
One day, a crippled mother came in with her son and placed an order for bean curd soup and steamed buns. The mother asked her son to eat fast so he would not be late for school.
But after they finished, they left without paying. The wife of Zhang Jin-so wanted to stop them, but Zhang said no. “Do you know them?” his wife asked. Zhang shook his head and said:
“They must have something urgent to do, so they forgot to pay; don’t stop them.”
A customer in the restaurant offered to pay for their meal, but Zhang refused. Upon hearing this, Zhang’s wife lashed out at her husband for being too generous. She reminded him and the other customers in the restaurant why they work so hard — their daughter has a congenital heart condition.
She didn’t want to be so stingy, but they had to save every yuan for their daughter’s medical treatments. The doctor told them if any of the treatments were delayed, their daughter’s condition would deteriorate.
All the customers in the restaurant who heard her story fell silent. The customer who was going to pay the mother’s bill took out 50 yuan and asked Zhang to keep the change.
Zhang was moved; nevertheless, he returned the change while acknowledging the customer’s kind gesture. At this moment, the mother who was in earlier came back and said to the owner:
“I don’t remember if I paid for our food last time, so I came back to check.”
Zhang smiled and said: “No, you did not pay.” The mother replied: “So, why didn’t you run after me to tell me to pay when I left?”
“Because you are crippled and life is not easy for you and your son. I was afraid that if I had chased you after you left the restaurant, you might feel embarrassed.”
All customers in the restaurant clapped after hearing his words. He wanted to save the face of the mother. The mother was moved to tears and thanked Zhang. After insisting on paying for her meal, she said:
“You are very kind and I want to thank you on behalf of my son and myself.”
The next day when Zhang came out of the kitchen to open the restaurant, he saw a long line of people waiting outside the door. He was surprised and asked why they where waiting in line to eat at his restaurant. He was told that the mother was a reporter for the local newspaper, and she wrote an article urging people to repay your kindness by eating at your restaurant.
From that day forward, Zhang Jin-so’s small restaurant was the most popular eating spot in the neighborhood.
Translation by Audrey Wang.
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